A Question About Give Aways

I’m plotting and planning a give away for my 30th Birthday in November.  And I’d like to make it a really good one!  I think I know what I’d like to give, and plans are well underway, but I would also like a bit of feedback on the process.

It’s common to see give aways that have entry criteria: you need to become a follower, or link back to the post on your own blog, for example.  Some of which mean that you get multiple entries.  Does this ever put you off entering?  Or do you like the option of having more than one entry?

What is a reasonable timescale to have a giveaway open for?  Is a week about right, too long or too short?  If there’s a multiple of a giveaway, would you prefer that you express a preference in your entry comment, or have a separate post for each item.  And should they run at the same time or one after the other?

I’m really hoping that what I’m planning will be exciting and something that you’d like to receive.  But sometimes the process is just as important, so I’d like to make that as enjoyable as possible too.  Any opinions you’re willing to share, advice or information you have on running a give away too, would be really useful.

Beignet Plotting – Facing Fabric Found!

Do you remember the fabric and buttons I showed you earlier?  The one’s that I plan to use for my Beignet.  I was pondering what fabric to use for the facings, as I thought my moleskin would be too thick.

Fabric for the facings

Well look at this!  I found it whilst mooching on Etsy, having been distracted from lingerie patterns.  Oh, and I was looking at lingerie patterns because of A Few Threads Loose’s proposed lingerie sewalong.

Isn’t it amazing?  I count three of my palette colours in there too – the gold, teal and chocolate brown.  I think it will look fabulous against the navy moleskin and navy lining fabric.  A real blam of colour that will only be hinted at, but I’ll know.  A zing of summer in an autumn and winter skirt.  Besides, I’m not brave enough to use a print this mad as a fashion fabric, but it’ll be a fun detail.  What do you reckon?

This evening I hope to start the hem on my circle skirt.  I say start as it’ll be a multi stage event:  attaching the horse hair braid then the actual hemming its self.  Which will have to be done by hand as I don’t want it to go through to the plaid.  I don’t want to work out the circumference of the skirt at the hem.  I’m pretty sure it’ll be about 4 metres / 4.5 yards.  Of hand catch stitching.

So I’ll probably break it up and do the horse hair braid tonight, then allow myself the distraction of sewing some of my Pendrell (which was planned for yesterday but didn’t happen), then do the hand stitching on Friday evening.  At least that way if it takes me hours I don’t have to get up for work the next day!

Oh, and I have begun scheming for a giveaway at the end of November when I’m (gulp) 30.  I hope you’ll love it…


Accident and Emergency.  That’s why this is a short post.  It’s 9:15 in the evening and I’ve just got home.  I ended up going straight to A&E from work to meet my Mum as Boy had managed to give himself mild concussion.  Believe me, there is nothing that will make your heart fall through the floor like the telephone conversation I had with her that ended with “I’ll meet you at A&E”.  She’s a nurse too, so she doesn’t go there on a whim.

But, he’s medically fine.  We’ve got to keep an eye on him and he’s a bit (lot) over tired so we’re probably in for an interesting night.  But he’s OK and that is the main and most important thing.

You never know, I might blog about sewing tomorrow!

I’m Quite Proud of This…

I put the waist band of my circle skirt on last night.  I’m really quite proud of how well I’ve managed to put it on.  No puckers or anything!  I even catchstitched it down on the inside so it looks really really neat.


And as you can see, my plaid has a fair bit more stretch to it than my lining and this is only after hanging for about 12 hours!  I think that this is the project I am the most pleased with so far, certainly in terms of finishing.


But oh my, it’s HEAVY!  There’s a lot of fabric in the skirt so it weighs quite a lot.  Definitely an autumn / winter skirt!

And I also finished my Pendrell pattern modifications and got one of them cut out.  And also realised too late that I’d cut the ruffle on the straight rather than bias.  And I don’t have enough fabric to re-cut it.  So we’ll see what it looks like and if it’s awful, I’ll just omit that bit for this version.

I pre-washed the fabric for the Pendrell yesterday and the amount of dye that came out was unbelievable!  It turned the water dark blue, dark enough for me to notice as I walked past the machine (we have front loading washing machines, generally, here in the UK with a glass door).  I’m glad that it went into the machine on its own and that I pre-washed it, otherwise I could have a lot of stuff with a weird grey-blue tint to it!

The Plans of an Ambitious Seamstress, Wife and Mother Will Often go Awry!

I had such plans for this weekend, sewing wise.  And I achieved very little of it.  Here’s what I was planning to do:

Pre-wash satin butterfly fabric for Pendrell blouse
Fine tune the Pendrell pattern after making adjustments to the muslin I made an eon ago
Cut out Pendrell x 2 for a bit of production line sewing
Grade Beignet pattern
Pre-wash Beignet fabric
Choose a fabric for the facing as the main fabric is quite heavy / thick and pre-wash that
Attach waist to circle skirt

Nothing huge, just lots of little bits.  It didn’t get done as we went out for the day on Saturday to Bewilderwood which is local to us and great for the boy, and then yesterday was catching up with the housework followed by being in bed at 7:30pm.  I’m so rock n’ roll!

The only thing I did manage was pre-washing the butterfly satin fabric.  At about 5pm last night.  I’m not sure what the fabric is made from, although I suspect cotton or cotton/rayon.  It went through on a 40′ wash and has survived, anyway!

Really dark blue fabric and teal buttons for Beignet

And I’ve managed to get the main fabric into the washing machine this morning for Beignet.  I think its a fabric called moleskin, it’s cotton (well it said pre-wash as per cotton on it, it was from  the sample rail at my local fabric store) and has a brushed look to it.  Clare Schaeffer’s fabric sewing guide doesn’t provide a lot of information on it other than referring you to the velvet section?!

The buttons are from my stash and are a dark teal colour.  Do you think this will work or should I invest in some navy ones?  I’ll line it in navy, but fancy a contrast for the facings, in a lighter weight fabric.  Is that living a little too dangerously, or if I go for a dark teal would that work?  Also, I’m considering bound buttonholes – have I totally lost the plot?!  It’d be a good workout for the buttonhole tool…  Anyone who’s already made this pattern have any words of wisdom?

Anyway, this evening I hope to get the waistband onto my circle skirt so that I can leave it to hang for a couple of days (to let the bias in the fabric to settle down) before I embark on the epic amount of sewing that will be involved in the hem!  And whilst it hangs I may be able to get on with some of the things I didn’t get round to this weekend?

Autumn Colours

I seem to be drawn to rich, jewel colours this autumn/winter.  I find colours easier to work with at this time of the year as the saturation isn’t so searing.

Autumn Jewels - my palette for autumn!

Like the ones above – a palette I made on COLOURlovers.  I love the combination of teal and chocolate.  And plum works well with the rich brown as well.  The mustard adds some golden warmth and would be an accent rather than a solid for me.  Navy is my dark neutral or black.  Cream is my light neutral as I wash out if I wear pure white.  I seem to have chosen stronger, darker colours but all rich in tone.

When I make my Lady Grey coat (not likely to be this year – I don’t have the confidence yet…) I imagine it to be either teal or plum with a chocolate lining, finished with a flash of gold piping where the lining joins the facings inside the coat.

Other plans are for a satin Pendrell in teal, and maybe plum and a navy Beignette in a beautiful brushed cotton…  And of course my beret and fingerless mitts are in a tweedy teal too.  Oh, and if I get Colette’s Jasmine pattern for my birthday, I may consider a solid golden mustard piece.  Even if I said it’d be an accent colour two paragraphs ago.  Just look at Sarah Gabbart’s top she made for the Sew Weekly.  If that can’t change your mind, nothing will.

I love this so much!

This is the first time I’ve ever actually thought about what colours I’d like to wear and which suit me.  It’s helped focus me a little more.  I can understand why Colette’s Colour Palette Challenge is so popular!  I’m unlikely to create 8 pieces in 8 weeks, more like 8 pieces between now and spring.  But I’m not making any promises, or putting any pressure on myself.

Do you plan with colour like this, or are you much more of a sew with whatever pattern and colour combination inspires you at the time person?

A Neat Zipper to Lining

As I’ve mentioned before, not having a neat finish between my zip and lining has been a cause of frustration.  But I’ve cracked it with my circle skirt I think – I’m pleased with how it came out anyway!

Can you see the zip?!

First of all I put my zipper in as a lapped zipper.  I used Casey’s instructions and also watched the relevant chapter from Gertie’s Bombshell Dress course.  I’m pretty pleased with how it came out and that the plaid matches! (PS, the way I’ve cut my circle skirt means no chevrons, but I’m OK with that!)

Lapped zipper partially open

I then sewed the lining of the skirt having finished the side seam allowances before I started.  Sanity prevailed and I have only overlocked the lining!  I sewed all the way up the right hand seam of the lining.  I then measured the length of my zip in my skirt outer where the zip is and transferred this measurement down from the waist of the lining.  I then sewed the seam from that point to the hem of the lining and pressed it open.

Next I measured 1/8″ more than my seam allowance and folded the seam allowance of the gap I left for the zip towards the wrong side of the lining.  I pinned then basted this in place.  I basted it in place so that I could press the lining and get a crisp fold.  Pressing over the pins would have been a lot harder than pressing over the basting stitches!

Basted seam allowances on zipper gap of the lining, wrong side of the lining facing up

Checking how deep the seam allowance is

I then pin basted the lining to the zip tape.  Wrong side of the lining towards the wrong side of my plaid skirt.  I made sure to only pin through the zip tape and plaid seam allowance and not to the skirt.

Pin basted lining to zip. Wrong side of lining to wrong side of plaid

I opened and closed the zip to make sure the lining wouldn’t catch.

Checking the zip will open

I put the lining fabric to the right and the plaid to the left so that it was only joined at the zip insertion.  The right sides of the plaid were together and the right sides of the lining were together.  It looked like a butterfly with plaid on one side and turquoise on the other.

Basted lining seam allowance to zipper tape

I then basted the seam allowance of the lining to the zipper tape and seam allowance of the plaid.  If you looked at it side on it’d be a zipper tape sandwich between the plaid and lining.  I did this on both sides and removed the pins.

Zipper tape sandwich

Using the zip foot I stitched as close as I could to the crease I’d ironed into the lining fabric.  I stitched from the waist towards the hem.  I did the same on the other side.  Be really careful when doing your stitching as you don’t want to catch the skirt in the stitches.  You should be stitching the seam allowances and zipper tape only!

Stitching as close to the crease as possible. Making sure not to catch anything other than seam allowances and zipper tape!

I didn’t do anything special at the bottom, just moved the stitching line as close to the teeth of the zipper as I could for the last 1/2″.  There is a tiny gap where the lining isn’t stitched down at the bottom of the zip, but I can live with that.

I then flipped the lining back so that it was wrong side to the wrong side of the plaid and pressed with a cloth over the inside of the  zip.  Et Voila!  One neat lining to zip finish!

Nice and neat where the zip meets the lining

More zip and lining! It's not this wonky in real life, it's just the way I manhandled all that fabric!

I hope that’s all made sense.  If you’ve got any questions, please post them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.  If you click on the photos you can have a look at a full size image…

Obsessive Seam Finishing

The zip insertion post was posted yesterday by Casey (with an additonal little note today) so yesterday I cracked on with my circle skirt and got the side seams done.

Now I have a real thing about it looking lovely and gorgeous on the inside and my inability to finish zip insertions really neatly bugs the heck out of me.  But I think I might have worked out how to do it…  I’ll have a go later and see if my plan works out.  Expect a photo heavy post tomorrow!

But I digress.  Side seams.  Well, their finish to be exact.  You may accuse me of over finishing them…

Serged and Turned and Stitched

Yup, that’s a serged then folded and stitched seam allowance.

Why?  Why finish it twice?!  Well, I can sort of explain:

I love my serger, I do.  I really do.  And thankfully she’s got a lower dose of attitude than Oona’s.  But whilst the finish is effective, it’s also a bit, well, utalitarian.  Perfect when sewing knits together and all that but this is a circle skirt for twirling my way through autumn, winter and possibly a bit of spring too.  I want it to be gorgeous on the inside as well as the outside.  And I love how a turned and stitched seam allowance looks.  So I serged prior to construction (the fabric frays if you even look at it!) and then pressed and turned and stitched and pressed again.

Do you like my grading from my turned and stitched hem to just the serged finish?  That’s where the zips going to be so I didn’t want any more bulk.

And the really insane thing?  This is going to be lined.  You’re not even going to be able to see the inside of the plaid.  And I’ll finish the lining in just the same way.  Just because I can.

Cosy Cabled Fog

7 Rows of Ribbing completed...

Evangeline Fog; that’s what I’ve named the fingerless mits I cast on yesterday.  They’re a pattern available on Ravelry called Evangeline.  Reading the notes of others who have already completed the pattern it’s evident that a thumb gusset makes them more comfortable to wear.  Hence the fog as I’ve taken the thumb gusset from a pattern called Vancouver Fog and spliced it onto the Evangeline.

I’m knitting them using the magic loop two at a time method to try to avoid the dreaded second sock syndrome.  I struggled with how to get started and this video shows you what to do.  I guess I’m a pretty visual learner as once I’d seen it (rather than reading the instructions I’d found elsewhere) I got it!

I wanted to use a super stretchy cast on, unfortunately it doesn’t work too well with textured wool so I’ve done a knitted cast on instead.  I’ll definitely be using this with the next pair of socks I make though!

I plan to finish with the stretchy bind off though, which looks like it will work well with any sort of wool!

Hopefully these wont take too long, although I’m going to have to concentrate when doing the thumb gussets and working two at the same time…  I may take one-off at that point and finish one glove before finishing the next as frogging (ripping out) would be difficult!  Anyway, I plan to knit on the sofa with the Mr when I’m not progressing my circle skirt…

Got to love a sheep stitch marker!

A Pressing Matter

I have wanted / needed a pressing ham and a seam roll, well since I started sewing and realised FBA (full bust adjustments) were going to be a necessary and regular part of my life.  Princess seams are curvy, FBA’d princess seams are super curvy and don’t like being pressed on a flat board!  In fact it was just plain frustrating and led to me nearly steam-burning my fingers.  Big ouch.

One of Sunni's Beautiful Tailor's Hams. Click on the photo to visit her shop!

I have loved Sunni’s pressing aids for a long time.  Particularly when she did a mix and match option when she had her Etsy shop.  I loved mixing and matching my wool and cotton options and at $40US they were reasonable too.  But $30 shipping to me here in the UK was just ouch.  I can understand the cost, believe me as these are quality goods stuffed with sawdust so there’s some heft to them.  And shipping heavy things costs more than shipping light things.  But it’s still the same result: a little too much to make it a reasonable option.  Sigh.

So I investigated what was available locally and it wasn’t pretty, or of a quality I was willing to accept for the price demanded!  So that left me with two options, continue to have a frustrating curve pressing experience or make them.  Bet you can guess what I chose to do!

If you Google search for a tutorial on how to make a ham or seam roll you’ll get loads of results.  This is what I did though.

First up was a visit to Sewing Princess to get hold of her free tailors ham and seam roll pattern.

I used the green line as my template.  I cut two pieces of calico / muslin, a piece of wool and a piece of cotton for the ham and the same for the seam roll.  I’ve tried to co-ordinate my wool to my cotton, but I didn’t want them to be exactly the same, hence the different prints.

A Ham and A Roll

Now I have to be honest, this has been on the to do list since about April, maybe earlier?  What’s been holding me up is the acquisition of the wool I needed for one side of the roll.  I just couldn’t bring myself to spend a lot of money on a short yardage for this.  And I was concerned about the accuracy of the fibre content description on some eBay listings.  In the end it was Etsy who came good.  Some wool samples were being sold and for less than £5 I got half a dozen almost A4 sized bits of pure wool, or wool and cashmere fabric!

To construct my pressing aids I layered and pinned as follows:

Calico/muslin, Cotton with right side up, twist of ribbon with raw edges towards raw edge of fabric and loop towards the middle, wool right side down, calico/muslin.

I stitched around the edge, using my presser foot as a guide, leaving a gap of 1-2” at the end opposite the ribbon.  This is to turn it all the right side out and so that there’s somewhere to stuff the stuffing in.  I backstitched at the beginning and end of my stitching, as well as over the ribbon.  I then pressed to set the stitches.

Turning them the right side out was, erm, interesting.  If I were to do this again I would leave the gap in the seam roll on one of the long edges, probably somewhere towards the middle.  This was a lot harder to turn out than the ham, and having the ribbon at the opposite end made the process easier as there was something to get hold of and drag through the gap!  I used the blunt end of a knitting needle to help get the corners turned.  Then a bit more pressing!

Next up was stuffing.  Mine are filled with sawdust, provided by a friend who manages a boatyard where they restore old wooden boats.  This means cutting lots of lovely new wood and he provided me with a box of clean (ie no varnish or glue etc on the cut wood) sawdust.  He thought I was mad mind you, asking for a box of sawdust!

My bright and cheerful seam roll

I made a crude funnel out of card and used a wooden spoon to feed the sawdust into the funnel.  The first few were a bit of a challenge as the fabric naturally wanted to lay together.  Once the first few were in though, squeeze and tamped down with the handle end of the spoon, it got a lot easier.  Once it was full and tamped down firmly there was still a bit of a gap, but I couldn’t get any more sawdust in.  Because I wanted a really firm roll I added some pillow stuffing in the last ¼” of the roll before slip stitching the hole shut.

A rather zingy tailor's ham

I repeated the process for the tailor’s ham, and this was easier to fill initially.  Filling the corners at the wide end was more of a challenge and I ended up pressing sawdust into the corners with my fingers.  Some pillow stuffing also went into the end as well before I slip stitched it closed.  I wonder whether having the gap on a long side would have made the filling easier.  It may just be that it’s one of those fiddly jobs that you’re only going to get good at through repetition.  Not something that’s likely to happen here!

So, a bit of research and a little effort and I now have a set of pressing aids for the princely sum of about £5.  Factoring in my time though would make them a lot more expensive, but I had fun making them and learnt a few things.  And that’s one of the reasons I love sewing; I’m always learning.